Ford – Volkswagen To Expand Their Global Collaboration "To Advance Autonomous Driving, Electrification And Better Serve Customers"

Friday, July 12, 2019

Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG on Friday announced they are expanding their global alliance to include electric vehicles – and will collaborate with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe – positioning both companies "to better serve customers while improving their competitiveness and cost and capital efficiencies."

Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess, Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett as well as Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky announced Volkswagen is joining Ford in investing in Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle technology platform company.

Officials said, "Working together with Ford and Volkswagen, Argo AI’s self-driving system (SDS) is the first with commercial deployment plans for Europe and the U.S. Plus, being able to tap into both automakers’ global reach, Argo AI’s platform has the largest geographic deployment potential of any autonomous driving technology to date. Volkswagen and Ford independently will integrate Argo AI’s SDS into purpose-built vehicles to support the distinct people and goods movement initiatives of both companies.

"Argo AI’s focus remains on delivering a SAE Level 4-capable SDS to be applied for ride sharing and goods delivery services in dense urban areas."

Ford and Volkswagen will have an equal stake in Argo AI, and combined, Volkswagen and Ford will own a substantial majority. The remainder will be used as an incentive pool for Argo AI employees. The full transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions.

“While Ford and Volkswagen remain independent and fiercely competitive in the marketplace, teaming up and working with Argo AI on this important technology allows us to deliver unmatched capability, scale and geographic reach,” Mr. Hackett said. “Unlocking the synergies across a range of areas allows us to showcase the power of our global alliance in this era of smart vehicles for a smart world.”

Company leaders also announced Ford will become the first additional automaker to use Volkswagen’s dedicated electric vehicle architecture and Modular Electric Toolkit – or MEB – to deliver a high-volume zero-emission vehicle in Europe starting in 2023.

 

Ford expects to deliver more than 600,000 European vehicles using the MEB architecture over six years, with a second all-new Ford model for European customers under discussion. This supports Ford’s European strategy, which involves continuing to play on its strengths – including commercial vehicles, compelling crossovers and imported iconic vehicles such as Mustang and Explorer.

Volkswagen started developing its MEB architecture in 2016, investing approximately $7 billion in this platform. The car-maker is planning to use this platform to build approximately 15 million cars for the Volkswagen Group alone in the next decade.

 

For Ford, using Volkswagen’s MEB architecture is part of its more than $11.5 billion investment in electric vehicles worldwide – and supports Ford’s commitment to offer its European customers a broad range of electric vehicles while meeting its sustainability commitments.

 

Mr. Diess said, “Looking ahead, even more customers and the environment will benefit from Volkswagen’s industry-leading EV architecture. Our global alliance is beginning to demonstrate even greater promise, and we are continuing to look at other areas on which we might collaborate. Scaling our MEB drives down development costs for zero-emissions vehicles, allowing for a broader and faster global adoption of electric vehicles. This improves the positions of both companies through greater capital efficiency, further growth and improved competitiveness.”

 

The alliance, which covers collaborations outside of Volkswagen and Ford’s joint investments in Argo AI, does not entail cross-ownership between the two companies and is independent from the investment into Argo AI. The alliance is governed by a joint committee, which is led by Hackett and Diess and includes senior executives from both companies.

 

The companies also are on track to deliver medium pickup trucks for global customers, aiming to start in 2022, followed by commercial vans.

 

Volkswagen will invest $2.6 billion in Argo AI by committing $1 billion in funding and contributing its $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company, which includes more than 200 employees – most of whom have been developing self-driving technology for the Volkswagen Group.

 

As part of the transaction, Volkswagen also will purchase Argo AI shares from Ford for $500 million over three years. Ford will invest the remaining $600 million of its previously announced $1 billion cash commitment in Argo AI.

 

The full transaction represents a valuation for Argo AI that totals more than $7 billion.

 

Both automakers said they see significant potential, including profitable growth by tapping new business areas tied to autonomous technology.

 

Argo AI plans to work closely with Ford and Volkswagen to provide the autonomous vehicle technology the automakers need to deliver fully integrated self-driving vehicles that can be manufactured at scale for safe, reliable and durable deployment in ride sharing and goods delivery services.

 

“Argo AI is fortunate to have a world-class team  due to our clear mission and the commitment to deployment from our partners, and together with AID employees, we will have a global workforce to attract even more of the best talent,” said Salesky, co-founder of Argo AI. “Plus, thanks to Ford and Volkswagen, Argo AI technology could one day reach nearly every market in North America and Europe, applied across multiple brands and to a multitude of vehicle architectures.”

 

Based in Munich, Germany, AID will become Argo AI´s new European headquarters and will be led by AID’s current CEO Karlheinz Wurm. With the addition of AID employees, Argo AI will grow from 500 to over 700 employees globally.

 

In addition to its global headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., the new location marks Argo AI’s first engineering center in Europe and the fifth globally in addition to Dearborn, Mich.; Cranbury, NJ; and Palo Alto, Calif. Collaborating with Ford, Argo AI also is testing its technology in Miami and Washington, D.C., where together they plan deployment of commercial services.

 

Ford plans to design an all-new, MEB-platform-based EV model, which starts arriving in 2023, in Köln-Merkenich, Germany. Volkswagen will supply MEB parts and components as part of the collaboration.

 

Both companies also will continue to target additional areas where they can work together on electric vehicles – a key strategic priority for both companies as they drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable and affordable mobility.

 

The agreement with Ford is a cornerstone in Volkswagen’s electric strategy, supporting the growth of the e-mobility industry and facilitating global efforts to reach the Paris 2050 Agreement.

 

Ford and Volkswagen remain on track in their previously announced plan to improve their respective strengths in commercial vans and medium pickups in key global markets. The work on these vehicle lines will create significant efficiencies for each company. 

 

Ford will engineer, source and build the previously announced medium pickup for both companies for customers in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America, with trucks expected to arrive in key markets as early as 2022.

For both companies, Ford intends to engineer, source and build larger commercial vans for European customers starting in 2022, and Volkswagen intends to develop, source and build a city van for sale in Europe and other select global markets.

 

Volkswagen and Ford have strong complementary commercial van and pickup businesses around the world, with popular models including the Ford Transit lineup and Ranger as well as the Volkswagen Transporter, Caddy and Amarok, it was stated.

 

Officials said, "As both companies expect customer demand for medium pickups and commercial vans to grow globally in the next five years, collaborating on these key segments will allow better technologies and more innovation to reach their respective customers more quickly – with better plant capacity utilization."


Zeus Industrial Products To Expand In Chattanooga

Propex Receives 2019 Innovation Award

Chattanooga Startup Text Request Doubles Revenue, Triples Employee Headcount


Zeus Industrial Products, Inc. will invest $11.25 million to expand its Chattanooga operations and create 54 jobs over the next five years. Zeus has acquired and will renovate a 140,000-square-foot ... (click for more)

Last week PETROMAT Enviro, a paving fabric that easily mills and recycles, was awarded the 2019 Industrial Fabrics Foundation Innovation Award. “Innovation is what drives us,” said Mike ... (click for more)

Chattanooga-based software startup, Text Request, has doubled its annual recurring revenue and more than tripled its employee headcount since the close of 2018, all without taking a penny of ... (click for more)


Business

Zeus Industrial Products To Expand In Chattanooga

Zeus Industrial Products, Inc. will invest $11.25 million to expand its Chattanooga operations and create 54 jobs over the next five years. Zeus has acquired and will renovate a 140,000-square-foot facility at 3600 Cummings Road in Lookout Valley, where it will relocate its Hamilton County operations. Zeus manufactures precision polymer extrusions and custom tubing used in ... (click for more)

Propex Receives 2019 Innovation Award

Last week PETROMAT Enviro, a paving fabric that easily mills and recycles, was awarded the 2019 Industrial Fabrics Foundation Innovation Award. “Innovation is what drives us,” said Mike Gorey, CEO of Propex. “It’s a key part of our culture, and we will continue to invest in products and market development to ultimately offer our customers the best geosynthetic solutions. ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Mac Taggart Shot In Shoulder By Officer After Pointing Gun At Deputies At Charleston, Tn.

A man was shot in the shoulder by a police officer at Charleston, Tn., early Sunday after a domestic disturbance call. At approximately 2 a.m., Bradley County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call near Laguna Drive in Charleston. Lance Leroy MacTaggart has been taken into custody on four counts of aggravated assault. While the victim sought medical treatment, deputies ... (click for more)

Woman Injured In Red Bank House Fire Saturday Evening

A woman was injured in a house fire Saturday evening in Red Bank. A 911 call was made reporting a house fire at 133 Flora Circle. At 6:30 p.m., Red Bank Fire Department responded to the scene and arrived reporting heavy smoke and fire on the back of the residence. The Red Bank Fire Department immediately requested a mutual aid response for additional manpower. The Signal ... (click for more)

Opinion

Ignored By The Water Company

How much time do you spend at Tennessee American Water's website? It is worthless for online reporting problems. Replies? Never happen. Communication? They appear to consciously avoid honest communication with concerned citizens. This "Opinion Page" is an avenue of last resort to report a problem, because no one is trying to listen at Tennessee American Water. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Start With Truth

By all accounts the public schools in Chattanooga and Hamilton County are far from what the average taxpayer would want them to be. Our schools are our number one priorities, this easily reflected by the fact they now receive over 60 percent of the total county budget -- the most money ever allocated to public education in history -- and the unbridled desire of our booming area ... (click for more)